Homelessness continues to be an escalating issue in our community.
The sit-lie ban is ineffective as a short-term fix to a long-standing problem. While it may get folks off the streets and connected with social workers and police support for the time-being, it really doesn’t solve the problem. The state and county should work together rather than compete to identify properties for development of long-term, low-income units on state and county land, provide comprehensive services related to job training and employment placement, and ensure access to subsidized education to assist in transition of these residents from the streets into the workforce and affordable permanent housing.
These long-term efforts are the challenge and solutions to this long-standing problem are needed now through tax incentives for private developers who build low-income rental units; creative mental health outreach programs to help street folks live law-abiding productive lives; and enforcing vagrant laws while ensuring that the interim shelters and social services are in place in order to make enforcement meaningful.
District homeless pictures from KITV archives.
The last four years we’ve seen an increase in homelessness. They say the numbers are getting smaller but the eye tells a different story. How many people have accounts of someone living at the bus stop outside their apartment building or on the sidewalk by their home? Criminalizing homelessness doesn’t treat the issue.
Community Outreach Court is a proven solution that is helping to divert nonviolent homeless “participants” from the system and get them wrap around services. There’s a shortage of judges but it just takes the commitment and resources to this program and others like Mental Health and Drug Court diversion programs to foster change.
The homelessness crisis is real and not an out of sight, out of mind issue. Smart development and the availability of comprehensive services is key to combating this cycle. Projects like Hale Mauliola exemplify that it’s not just the roof over your head but the big-picture services available to its tenants i.e. addiction and mental health services, reintegration into the workforce via job training and transition out of short-term housing to a long-term, sustainable residence. Homelessness won’t fix itself and neither will out lack of affordable housing. We need to expand our work with our community partners on public-private partnerships like Kauhale Kamaile and Kahauiki Village. You deserve active representation, you deserve leadership with aloha.